Encampment fire

A city public works crew had cleared the remains of two tents that burned Saturday night in El Pescadero Park, including one tent where a man was found deceased earlier that evening. The cause of the man’s death, and of the fire, are still under investigation.

A fire at El Pescadero Park destroyed two tents and scorched a fence between the homeless encampment at the park and the Stone Pine Meadow apartment complex.

The fire may be connected to the death of a man who had been staying at the encampment.

Tracy Police responded to the park at 6:31 p.m. Saturday after someone reported that a friend appeared to have died at the park. Police have not released any details, except to confirm that officers arrived at the scene to find a man inside a tent was unresponsive.

Tracy Police Sgt. Mario Ysit said officers and emergency personnel attempted life-saving measures and were unable to revive the man, and confirmed that he died at the scene. Ysit said the man was known to stay at the park. Police are not releasing his name pending notification of his family. The cause of his death is also under investigation.

About 2½ hours later, at 9:07 p.m., Tracy Police and South County Fire Authority crews responded to a report of a fire at the park. The blaze reportedly destroyed two tents, there were reports of propane stove cannisters exploding, and a fence between the encampment and the apartment complex also caught fire.

Ysit confirmed that the fire started in the same tent where the man was found. South County Fire Authority Battalion Chief Scott Arganbright said that as the fire spread someone in the Stone Pine Meadow apartments pulled a fire alarm in the apartment complex, causing residents of the complex to evacuate the buildings.

He noted that the contents inside the tents, including propane stove cannisters, were destroyed. A fence was damaged, but there was no damage to the neighboring apartment buildings, and no injuries as a result of the fire were reported.

Though people at the park said they believe someone who knew the deceased man had started the fire, police and fire officials have not determined the cause of the fire, have not identified any possible suspects and the case is still under investigation.

“It’s suspicious right now,” Arganbright said, adding that investigators are following up on statements from people at the scene.

Contact Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com, or call 209-830-4227.

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